the Zola Jones Designs Blog
A blog by Chicago handbag designer Jason Loper about the ups and downs of creating the Zola Jones Designs label.
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Saturday, December 2, 2006 - Strike a Pose

Snow Day was a wonderful day ... but now I have to make up for it by squeezing two days' worth of work into one.  And a Saturday no less!  Not that I wasn't productive yesterday.  I made two huge pots of pasta sauce to freeze for future meals and I also baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies.  There's just something about the first snow of the season that makes me want to cook.  Michael and I are looking for a condo right now and high on the priority list is a nice kitchen.  Because, really, in the hours that I'm actually home, most are spent in the kitchen. 

I also finished covering Susie Pose-So-Much, a rather battered mannequin that Michael picked up for me at a thrift store.  On Monday I was struck with the inspiration to cover her in this brown houndstooth fabric that I've had sitting around forever.  But then I wasn't sure if she'd just end up looking, well, scary that way.  So first I taped the fabric to her face to make sure it would work before I went though the process of cutting up the strips of fabric and ModPodging them to her.  Satisfied that she'd be cool (and not frightening) I dug into the project.  And, I must say, I am so pleased.  She's a completely different mannequin.  I can't find the original photos that I took of her when Michael first brought her home.  Trust me, she was a sad little lady.  She had a big hole on the top of her head, the paint on her eyes and lips was smeared and worn, someone had written "Cher" on her chin and drawn on nipples.  Basically, she looked like a cheap whore after a very long night.  And now ... as you can see she's one classy bitch now!  She'll debut at the One of a Kind Show next week.  Oh, speaking of, if you'd like free tickets to One of a Kind, email me ( 

2006-12-02 15:02:42 GMTComments: 1 |Permanent Link
Friday, December 1, 2006 - Winter Wonderland


Piles of snow and ice have fallen on Chicago.  And I love it!  Michael bounded on the bed this morning at 6AM, flush with the excitement that the school where he works on Fridays was closed.  I kinda made the decision then that I'd have a snow day too.  Of course now here it is almost noon and the snow has stopped falling ... I could absolutely go down to the studio now.  After all, the Fine Arts Building is holding an open house tonight and I had planned on having my studio open for that.  But, really, how many snow days do we get? 

As I was writing this I got an email from my friend Abby in which she shared my snow day excitement and viewing it as a little vacation day.  And I really only need one other person to share my opinion on celebrating this as a free day to justify it!  So I think it shall be. 

Woohoo!  SNOW DAY!

2006-12-01 17:31:30 GMTComments: 1 |Permanent Link
Thursday, November 30, 2006 - You're So Vain

Here it is Thursday and, once again, I've only blogged on Monday this week.  Dammit!  Well, so here I am ... with nothing to say. 

Oh, yes, I can tell you about yesterday.  I deemed yesterday Errand Day - running around the city switching bags out at my stores, grocery shopping, etc.  Well, it wasn't the best day for it.  Oh the rain!  The streets were flooded and I discovered I have the squeakiest windshield wipers ever.  But that wasn't the worst of it.  My final errand was a stop at my neighborhood Jewel.  On the way back out the car I noticed that it seemed to be sitting a little low.  Eh, I thought, must be my imagination.  I put my groceries in the car and then took my cart over to the cart coral.  It was on my walk back to the car that I noticed my very flat tire.  Now, I there's already one tire on my car that goes flat every week or so but would that be the tire to be flat?  No, of course not.  So I drove the car over the a gas station to try to fill it up enough to get me home.  In doing so, I think I put a huge gash in the sidewall of the tire becasue as I was filling it with air, I could feel the air gushing right back out at me.  URGH!  So I filled it as much as I could (placing my finger over the gash, like that'll work!) and tried to drive the rest of the way home.  I only got a block before I was completely flat again.  Oh, screw this! I finally decided.  I parked the car and called AAA to have it towed to a tire place.  It only occurred to me later that I probably could have just put the spare tire on but, frankly, it was so rainy and muddy and I was wearing my nice clothes so ... tow truck to the rescue!  And vanity wins over again. 

2006-11-30 16:34:17 GMTComments: 0 |Permanent Link
Monday, November 27, 2006 - Monday, Monday

I just noticed that I tend to post to the blog only on Mondays.  That's purely unintentional.  I think it's because I come off the weekend with a renewed sense of commitment to the blog.  Obviously I must lose that commitment by Tuesday.  I'll try to make a better go of it this week. 

I was laying out my plans for the future of Zola Jones Designs to a friend this evening ... this time of year gets me thinking about the future.   I've been batting around an idea for a storefront/factory/learning center.  It's still in the early dreamy stage ... so of course I'm terrifically excited about it.  I haven't had time to consider all the details and pros and cons yet so at this stage it just sounds like a good old time!

I'm having my part-time assistant in to work tomorrow.  Hiring Andrea has been a wonderful experience for me.  Up to this point I've been handcrafting each individual bag myself.  By hiring Andrea I've forced myself to let some tasks go to someone else.  And it's been wonderful!  It's helped me see that ... well, that I don't have to make all the bags myself.  I can hire others to help.  I can train them to in the Zola Jones way of doing things.  I know, duh!, right?  Honestly, I've gotten so used to sewing the bags that it's become habit as much as anything.  On the days when I don't sew - like when I took a few days off for Thanksgiving - I don't know what to do with myself.  If I'm not creating bags, I'm lost. 

Which is why the concept of a store/factory appeals to me more than outsourcing the labor and selling from a storefront.  I like being hands on. 

Eh, I could go on and on about this, talking in circles and boring us all.  But I'll save it all for when I've made an actual plan.

2006-11-28 04:50:58 GMTComments: 2 |Permanent Link
Monday, November 20, 2006 - Worst.Show.Ever

Back at the studio today after a rather disappointing weekend at the Chicago Women's Show this weekend.  Ugh - what an awful experience.  The show organizers not only did a terrible job of promoting the event, they seem to have misrepresented it to most of the vendors.  There were only a few businesses like mine (smaller and arts related) while the majority were people doing raffles for Coach bags or selling vinyl siding or whatever.  By late Saturday afternoon, after only selling two bags, I decided it was time to take my leave.  So that day after the show I collected my things and went home.  I saw that some other vendors did the same thing - it looked like Hall F at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center was going to be pretty empty on Sunday.

The good news in all of this is that I won't have to work nearly as hard this week as I originally anticipated.  I already have a wonderful inventory for the One of a Kind Show in three weeks.  I just need to add to it a bit so I can work at a slower pace.  That's exciting. 

2006-11-20 18:53:36 GMTComments: 2 |Permanent Link
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